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Lauren Russell, assistant director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics, is a research assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Her first full-length book, What’s Hanging on the Hush, will be out from Ahsahta Press in 2017. A Cave Canem fellow, she was the 2014-2015 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the 2016 VIDA Fellow to the Home School, and she was recenly awarded a 2017 Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts. Russell’s chapbook Dream-Clung, Gone came out from Brooklyn Arts Press in 2012, and her work has appeared in boundary 2, The Brooklyn Rail, jubilat, and Tarpaulin Sky, among others, and is forthcoming in Bettering American Poetry 2015. Her reviews may be found in publications including Aster(ix), The Volta, and Jacket2. Russell holds an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh, where she served as co-editor-in-chief of Hot Metal Bridge and received a Distinguished Teaching Award in the English Department.
Russell is currently in the middle of a book-length poetic hybrid work, tentatively entitled “Descent.” The project began when the she acquired a copy of the diary of her great-great-grandfather, a Confederate veteran who fathered twenty children by three of his former slaves, black women who have been silenced by history. “Descent” is at once an investigation, a reclamation, and an insistence on making history as a creative act.